Dating Without Sex

Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

NO SEX AND THE CITY? That's how some local singles are approaching the dating game. Especially among the Eastside's evangelical churches, men and women have embraced abstinence in a manner that, compared to secular Seattle, seems like the ultimate in alternative lifestyles.

Todd Schultz, a 30-year-old IT analyst at Safeco, joined a singles "fellowship group" at Redmond's Overlake Christian Church several years ago, after deciding to abandon his postcollegiate hedonism. "When I was in the partying phase, I knew that wasn't the environment I wanted to meet my lifelong partner in, so I didn't do a lot of dating," he recalls. After participating in group parties and camping trips with his OCC fellowship for the last couple years, he recently began seeing one particular woman.

Christian dating "isn't hugely different" from dating out in the secular world, says Schultz. "We're not getting drunk every night. We're not hopping in the sack. But that doesn't mean you can't even kiss [or] you can't even hold hands. You just need to set boundaries." Sex is off the table, Schultz acknowledges. "But there's a lot of steps between kissing and sex. And as far as I'm concerned, it's a personal choice how far is too far." Other members of the fellowship stick to group dates, he adds, the better to avoid temptation.

At Christ Church in Kirkland, Bruce Anderson has also been participating in a singles' group for people over 30?people who, he says, "are tired of playing games with each other, tired of the short-term nature of a lot of relationships." According to Anderson, who works for a computer database firm, the members of his group "don't pursue dating in the way the word has come to be used. You're not going in there, scoping out people to see who to ask out on Friday night. You're not going for three weeks with somebody, then breaking up."

Sounding a note that any secular dater can relate to, he concludes, "We're protecting each other's hearts?that's the way we look at it."

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